I’ve been in fitness and wellness for my whole career so far, but one project that is ongoing is something that I am particularly passionate about — and that is my online dance and wellness courses. Through them, I can reach thousands of people all over the world who have a deep desire to improve their fitness levels, reach their physical goals, and learn new skills.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Dinneen.
Lindsey is a entrepreneur, creator, learner, and dancer. She founded and is the Artistic Director of the professional dance company, VidaDance, the founder and host of the podcast, Artfully Told, and an Adjunct Instructor for Johnson County Community College, teaching ballet and tap courses for its Continuing Education department. She loves sharing the joy of dance and wellness with others, and creates online courses to teach various dance styles, stretching/toning, and healthy living.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Absolutely! Thank you for having me. I have been dancing since I was four years old. After watching a video of “The Nutcracker,” I fell in love with the beautiful costumes, and my mom enrolled me in a ballet class shortly after that. I grew up mostly studying classical ballet, and in college at Mercyhurst University, I branched out to include modern, tap, and jazz while earning my BA in Dance. After college, I moved to Kansas City to dance professionally, and did so with various local companies for five years. I’ve been an entrepreneur at heart for a long time, but it wasn’t until six years ago that I finally took the first steps towards becoming one. I was inspired to start my own professional dance company, VidaDance, not only to affect change in the dance world, but to affect change in the world through dance. Seven months later, I founded VidaDance Studio, with a mission to inspire confidence and joy through dance classes. In 2020, due to COVID-19, I switched gears with the studio to host only semi-private and private classes so that I could personally coach and mentor each student individually. Dance and physical activity have defined my own life, and sharing what I’ve learned about healthy lifestyles has been a reoccurring theme throughout my life and career. There’s nothing I love better than working directly with people as a coach or mentor, whether professionally or as a friend. I am passionate about helping women and men live their most successful, empowered, and healthy lives.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I think the most interesting story I’ve had so far is when two of my professional dance company’s performers told me, on separate occasions and unbeknownst to each other, that because of the positive, motivational, and growth-oriented culture I had created with my company, that their lives had been saved. Both had independently gone through very difficult depression periods, to a point where they contemplated not continuing on, but both had attributed what saved them to be me. I have never been more speechless than when I found that out. I don’t think it’s anything special about me — it’s simply my desire to create the best work atmosphere that I possibly can. That will always be what I’m most proud of — that what I do can actually make the difference between someone choosing life over the alternative. That truly humbles me and motivates me to continue doing my best, always.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’ve certainly made a lot of mistakes in my career, but one that stands out from when I first started was in expecting way too much from my students too quickly. I know that sounds odd, because high expectations on their own aren’t bad to hold — however, during my first year of teaching, I hadn’t learned yet that younger and/or less experienced students need a lot more time to truly absorb and perfect new material than I was giving them. For some strange reason, I had it in my head that they should be moving as fast as I was — yet I had so many more years of experience than any of them had! It was important to me to learn to slow down and encourage each student’s individual pace, while celebrating each accomplishment along the way. Looking back, I feel a little bad for my first few groups of students because I don’t think I gave them as much love and support as I would have wanted to! Since then, I’ve been a much kinder, patient, and understanding instructor for every age and level I teach.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There have been so many people who have helped me along the way. No one can achieve success alone. I am very grateful for a few individuals who really stand out to me. My husband has been my biggest fan and supporter from day one. He consistently encourages me to follow my dreams and passions, no matter how much work that might end up meaning for both of us. He is gracious and kind, and is willing to literally do whatever it takes to help me achieve my goals — even if that means learning how to run sound and lights for a show, mop a floor, or even actually create and perform in a piece for the company. He is also my advocate and encourager when I feel down, and never fails to cheer me up with his great sense of humor and kindness.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I’ve been in fitness and wellness for my whole career so far, but one project that is ongoing is something that I am particularly passionate about — and that is my online dance and wellness courses. Through them, I can reach thousands of people all over the world who have a deep desire to improve their fitness levels, reach their physical goals, and learn new skills. I believe in being an encouraging and empowering instructor, helping people realize that they can achieve all the goals they set for themselves, and that it simply takes time to learn new skills and develop new habits. It’s so humbling to me to receive messages from students who would never have otherwise had an opportunity to take one of the dance courses I teach because it’s not something that is readily available or condoned where they live. When people dance or move their bodies and embrace a healthier lifestyle, I believe the world is positively impacted.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
1. Get active for just a few minutes a day! For free, follow workout routines on YouTube such as the Tone It Up channel, where you can follow along to workouts that last anywhere from 10–30 minutes, so you can work out at your own pace and in your own available time.
2. Try meditation or prayer. Taking some time everyday to stop and reflect is a powerful way to reset your attitude and connect with your soul. There are lots of great, free resources to get started, such as the Calm app.
3. Incorporate yoga into your bedtime routine. Before you go to sleep every night, take a few minutes to decompress from the day. Enjoy a free yoga routine on YouTube, from a channel like Yoga with Adrienne. You can pick workouts between 10–20 minutes long for a quick mindset reset before bedtime.
4. Consider seeing a professional counselor or therapist. It is a game-changer to have a safe space to be honest with a person whose job it is to listen and ask good questions to help you navigate life. Try BetterHelp for an online option.
5. Give yourself a break. Seriously. It’s easy to beat yourself up when you indulge a little too much or don’t stick to your workout routine as often as you want. It’s okay (and very encouraged) to take a break, and allow yourself to splurge now and then. Do what’s good for you: take a bath, go to coffee with friends. Heck, eat a second slice of pie once in awhile! As long as you routinely keep to a good diet and good wellness/fitness routines, taking a break from it all is not only expected, it’s wise.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would love to start a movement that would be exactly that — a “movement” to get people up and moving! I genuinely believe in the power of moving your body every day, and how much that can do for your overall well-being — physical, mental, and emotional. Even if all you do is go for a quick 10-minute walk around the neighborhood, without a phone or other distraction, and really take the time to be present and mindful about what you’re seeing — that can have tremendous benefits for your whole-body health. I would love to see a movement of people who prioritize even just a small amount of exercise every day.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- I wish someone had told me that embarking on a career in wellness, although vital and such a good choice, would mean that I had the potential to let my own wellness slip while caring for others. I wish I’d known I had to prioritize my own wellness first, or I would have nothing left to give to others.
- I wish someone had told that wellness is about so much more than being physically in shape — that it is truly about the whole being — mind, body, and soul. Wellness also encompasses mental and emotional health, and spiritual connection.
- I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to make mistakes. I used to believe that I should be a perfectionist in everything I did. But that doesn’t allow for human error, which is a part of everyone’s lives. Now, I strive for excellence in everything I do. My best looks different every day, but I can always do my best for that particular day.
- I wish someone had told me that even though I love what I do on a daily basis, that that doesn’t mean I’d feel like I “wasn’t working a day” in my life. That has never been true for me. I love what I do, but I’m working hard. I believe that’s a good thing. It means I am always striving for growth and eager for the next challenge.
- I wish someone had told me how surprisingly easy it is to get out of shape, and how hard it is to get back into shape — but that if I (and my clients) just continue moving and eating right every day, it’s more than possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
For me, mental health is at the top of my list as the cause nearest and dearest to my heart at the moment because I know firsthand how important it is to prioritize it — and how devastating it can be when you don’t. I’ve been on a quest over the last year and a half to finally prioritize my mental health. People often talk about self-care in terms of “take a walk, run a hot bath, read your favorite book.” While those are all great things to do, what self-care looks like is saying no to an opportunity when it’s not right for you. It’s distancing yourself from negative people. It’s finding ways to carve out time for meditation to help you feel balanced and at peace again. It’s also talking to someone who can help you navigate decisions and difficulties along the way. For so long, I believed that I was just fine, and that I didn’t deserve professional counseling or therapy because I didn’t “qualify.” I’m not sure why I had it in my head that I needed to have a “real issue” in order to take up a counselor’s time, but I did. (Whatever “having a real issues” means anyway; mental health is obviously individual.) Let me be the first to say: whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, no matter how you’re feeling in general, counseling is for you. Getting to be free to fully express how I’m feeling allows me to sort through areas of life that are rocky and rough. I would initially come to sessions feeling like I had to apologize for being completely honest and transparent, but my counselor was quick to help me realize that this was the right, safe place to do so. She’s walked through some very difficult seasons of life with me. I couldn’t be more grateful to have a caring professional ask probing questions, offer different perspectives, and gently guide me to come to my own wiser conclusions and solutions.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I’d love to connect with anyone on social media! You can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram with @lindseydinneenofficial.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!